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42 Ounce Sodas and Public Health

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a new effort to combat obesity. Much of the proposal was lost in the controversy regarding the recommendation to limit the size of sodas and other sugary drinks.

Last week Mayor Bloomberg announced a New York City Initiative aimed at addressing the growing obesity epidemic. “Reversing the Epidemic: the New York City Obesity Task Force Plan to Prevent and Control Obesity” received attention largely because of its’ recommendations regarding putting limits on the portion sizes of sodas and sweetened drinks, but in reality is a comprehensive report which can serve as a model for all communities grappling with this public health challenge.

Among NYC children ages 6-11, 21 percent are obese. This generation is at risk for premature diabetes, heart disease and death. Long Island is not immune-as a matter of fact there are some communities on LI where the prevalence of obesity may be 25% higher than in NYC. Not only is obesity a health challenge, but it is a threat to our economy by virtue of both direct medical costs and lost worker productivity from obesity related illness.

The NYC Task Force focused on the environmental support of obesity. Food packaging was a major concern. Sugary drinks are the leading cause of excess calorie intake in adults, and are the biggest contributor to the rise in the average daily caloric intake over the past three decades.  Structural support for physical activity was also analyzed, as countries with building and architectural codes supportive of walking, biking and public transportation use have lower levels of obesity.

The Report included recommendations from three active workgroups: Food environment, Physical activity/physical design and City Practices. Examples of these are recommendations are:

  1. Developing “Wellness Councils” in public schools
  2. Installing more water fountains in schools to encourage water/discourage sugary drinks
  3. A “school gardens” initiative
  4. Salad bars in NYC schools
  5. Adopt the “Move to Improve” initiative
  6. Establish a maximum size for sugary drinks
  7. Expand healthy food access in the retail environment
  8. Establish a center to facilitate architecture and construction which encourages physical activity
  9. Create a city wide bicycle network
  10. Offer wellness programs to all NYC employees
  11. Improve the diagnosis of obesity in hospitals, health clinics and schools

Although we can debate the merits of some of these proposals, the importance of the initiative is the proposal to treat obesity as a public health issue, and to approach it as a societal problem with roots in our neighborhood and environment.

Hopefully, communities throughout the country, including Long Island, will take note of New York City’s plans, and discuss how schools, businesses and politicians can work together to fight the epidemic of obesity.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Frank June 07, 2012 at 08:07 PM
:-). too bad the gift wrap is not made of real Bacon.
ftptch June 08, 2012 at 09:42 PM
bacon is an absolute gift from whatever higher power there happens to be.
Lloyd June 10, 2012 at 07:51 PM
You notice that no matter how many people are killed by drunk drivers and how many people suffer from alcohol Related diseases, none of these feckless politicians are doing anything to curtail drinking alcohol? They don't have the guts to take on the alcohol and restaurant/bar businesses, but pick on the little guy who wants to enjoy one harmless soft drink. Throw these liberal bums out to the curb and restore our freedom to live by our own rules.
Vincent June 10, 2012 at 09:10 PM
Lloyd: We have Mothers Against Drunk Drivers to speak up for us. And just think. Because of the politicians we can have Mothers Against Mariuana Use next.
Lloyd June 10, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Yeah. And Mothers Against Sexual Intercourse will be popping up its ugly head too. Soon sex will be banned by Bloomberg and his Nannies because it has been deemed unhealthy and disease related/

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